Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Today's News-Wednesday, December 19th

State police at Schuylkill Haven responded to three crashes along the Route 61 corridor Tuesday. Around 2pm, a two vehicle crash occurred at the entrance to Redner's Market along Manheim Road. Jesse Bolinski of Orwigsburg was attempting to make a U-turn, and turned into the path of Joseph Evans' car, who was following behind him. The cars collided. Within the span of a half hour, two crashes occurred. Richard Auker of Schuylkill Haven was driving his Jeep across the ice-covered parking lot at Heritage Kia. He lost control, struck a wooden fence and rolled onto its roof. The car ended up in culvert. At 5:30, Sherry Clark of Pottsville was waiting to turn left into the Cressona Mall. Amandus Dorrell, also of Pottsville was traveling south. Clark turned into the path of Dorrell’s car, blocking both southbound lanes. No one was injured in the three mishaps.

As Pennsylvania looks to ramp up biofuel production, corn is becoming an increasingly important commodity. And an agronomist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences reports that corn production is on the rise. No one's mistaking Pennsylvania for Iowa, but corn production is increasing steadily in the Keystone State. Greg Roth, state program leader for renewable energy with Penn State Extension, says the growth can be attribute to a combination of hard work and good science:
Roth says now that corn is in demand for feed, food and fuel, the yield increase shows that Pennsylvania farmers can be more productive, even in drought years like the one we've just experienced.

A Schuylkill Haven fire company, continuing to rebound after being burned out of their station in September, received generous contributions from a community business and its former president yesterday. Schuylkill Hose Company #2, which suffered a $2 million dollar fire September 12th, received a $10-thousand-dollar contribution from Draka Cableteq, the former Tamaqua Cable. The company was one of the responding companies to a fire that saved their plant in 2004, and the company wanted to repay the favor. The money included voluntary donations from some of the company's employees. Draka representatives also stated that other area businesses should step up and help the company financially. The Republican and Herald reports that, in addition, former Tamaqua Cable President William Combs the Third contributed $5-thousand-dollars to Schuylkill Hose. The company is continuing to rebuild from the fire, with work being done on a regular basis.

Police want to know who broke into a garage at an area high school. Troopers say overnight Monday, someone broke into a maintenance garage behind Minersville Senior High School in Cass Township. The thieves made off with several landscaping tools. Anyone with information is asked to call State Police at Frackville.

The Pennsylvania Health Department has approved the sale of one of the nation's largest nursing-home chains to a private equity firm -- despite concerns raised by the state's largest health-care union. Department spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman says the approval means The Carlyle Group will be licensed to operate 46 nursing homes owned by Manor Care, including one in Schuylkill County. Manor Care officials say the sale won't affect the quality of care provided to more than 7,000 patients in Pennsylvania. The Service Employees International Union has campaigned nationwide to raise concerns about whether Carlyle would cut back on patient care, partly because the purchase will be financed heavily by debt. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania officials didn't immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on the health department's decision.

A machining company plans to move it's operations to a new location in the county. Ashland Technologies recently acquired the building that formerly housed the Penn Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company in Hegins. Ash-Tec is a top manufacturer of machined and fabricated parts. The company will vacate an existing 12-thousand-square-foot structure in Ashland and move its entire operation to the newly-purchased 45-thousand-square-foot building in Hegins.
Ash-Tec president, Bill Wydra, Jr., estimates the costs of acquisition, renovation, new equipment purchases and moving expenses will top $850-thousand dollars. All employees of the Ash-Tec's 23-member workforce will continue at the new location and at least 15 new employees will be hired within the next three years.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A writer backing a bid to claim National Football League championship status for the 1925 Pottsville Maroons says he's heard from a high-ranking reader. Author David Fleming says he received a handwritten letter Tuesday from President Bush about his book entitled "Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship." Bush compliments Fleming as a "fine writer." The president's letter adds, "I did enjoy the book." Fleming says he doesn't know how the president received a copy. The 1925 Maroons team had a 10-2 record but was stripped of the title for playing an exhibition against Notre Dame's all-stars. The NFL named the Chicago Cardinals as the 1925 champs.
In addition to Fleming's efforts, the Pennsylvania House has approved a resolution urging the NFL to reconsider.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Planes will now begin flying new routes out of Philadelphia International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday is implementing the first stage of its plan to redesign airspace at the Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., airports. The plans face legal challenges. Injunction requests have been filed on behalf of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Comcast Corp. predicts courts will reject a new federal market share rule that would prevent the nation's largest cable television company from growing substantially larger. The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to put a 30
percent limit on the share of the pay television market a single cable company may serve.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The mining industry is getting more time to have its say about final federal rules requiring stronger seals for abandoned sections in underground coal mines. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period on the rules and added a fifth public hearing on January 15th in Virginia.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - An Erie County church is filling one of its newly drilled gas wells with concrete as a last-ditch effort to stem methane from leaking and allow five families who live nearby
to return home. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered First Alliance Church in Millcreek Township to cap the well, which is one of seven drilled on church property in October.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The Lehigh Valley IronPigs say they'll open their new stadium, Coca-Cola Park, in Allentown with a March 30 exhibition game with the National League East champion Philadelphia Phillies. IronPigs general manager Kurt Landes says it's an honor to have the Phillies want to help their Triple-A farm club. The $49 million stadium is under construction.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Airline officials say they expect the government to propose limiting the number of flights at New York City-area airports. It's part of a plan to be announced today to
ease congestion at the airports and reduce flight delays around the nation.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush will sign an energy bill today that raises auto fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years. The bill requires the industry to achieve an average of 35 miles per gallon for all vehicles, including SUVs and small trucks, by 2020. It also includes new energy efficiency standards for appliances, light bulbs and buildings.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The New York Times is reporting that White House lawyers took part in discussions with the CIA about whether to destroy videotapes of terror suspect interrogations. The paper quotes one former intelligence official as saying there had been "vigorous sentiment" to destroy the tapes, while other officials said no White House lawyer gave a direct order to preserve the tapes.

SKIATOOK, Okla. (AP) - Utility companies in Oklahoma say they expect to restore electricity to most customers by later today or tomorrow. Thousands have been without power for more than a week after a massive 2-day storm coated much of the state in ice. President Bush declared a major disaster for seven counties in the state yesterday.

NEW YORK (AP) - Time's person of the year is Russian President Vladimir Putin. The magazine's managing editor says Putin accomplished "an extraordinary feat of leadership" by "bringing stability" to "a country that was in chaos." Others in the running for the honor included Nobel Prize-winner Al Gore and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.


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